Photo: Pioneering Spirit and Ninian Northern arrival at Dales Voe (for illustration). Source: Spirit Energy

Pioneering Spirit vessel hired to remove Morecambe platforms

Allseas’ giant heavy lift vessel, the Pioneering Spirit, will remove the DP3 and DP4 platforms from Morecambe Bay off the UK for Spirit Energy.

Pioneering Spirit removing Tyra TWA topsides
Pioneering Spirit removing Tyra TWA topsides

While production continues from Spirit’s other installations in the area, the wells at DP3 and DP4 have been plugged and abandoned and the platforms are now ready to be lifted and taken back to shore, Spirit Energy said on Thursday.

Two normally unmanned 11,000-tonne installations, which used to produce gas, in Morecambe Bay will be removed by Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit, the largest vessel in the world, this year.

Final preparations for Spirit Energy’s DP3 and DP4 installations to be lifted from the East Irish Sea are underway.

The infrastructure used to produce gas as part of Spirit Energy’s complex of eight installations in Morecambe Bay. As the field has matured, the reserves the platforms previously tapped into have been produced by the larger, manned Central Morecambe platform nearby.

The 12 wells which were connected to the DP3 and DP4 platforms have already been plugged and abandoned – using a slant rig to accommodate the angle at which the wells were drilled in the 1980s to access the gas reservoir below the seabed – and the platforms will soon be safe to be lifted and taken back to shore.

Allseas’ 382-metre Pioneering Spirit will lift both the DP3 and DP4 platforms – well within its limits of lifting 48,000-tonne topsides.

Donald Martin, Project Manager at Spirit Energy, said: “After two years of preparing the DP3 and DP4 installations for removal, we’re now looking forward to one of the most significant milestones in the project with the removal of both platforms.

“Seeing the Pioneering Spirit in the East Irish Sea will be an impressive sight – its capacity and single-lift methodology made it a good fit to safely execute this project”.

The DP3 and DP4 installations first produced gas in 1985 when the South Morecambe field came online.

The area continues to produce enough gas to heat one million UK homes every day thanks to production from the Central Morecambe, North Morecambe, DP6 and DP8 platforms.

Last year was a busy one for the Allseas-owned giant heavy lift vessel.

In addition to removing Shell’s Brent Alpha platform from the North Sea in June 2020, the vessel also removed the Tyra East and Tyra West integrated processing and accommodation platforms for Total in August 2020.

Also in August, the Pioneering Spirit removed the 14,200 tonne Ninian Northern platform topside and delivered it to the Lerwick port in Scotland for decommissioning.